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In Progress: MUSE Museum of Science / Renzo Piano

© RPBW - Stefano Goldberg
© RPBW - Stefano Goldberg

Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop Location: Trento, Italy Architect: Renzo Piano Project Year: 2012 Photographs: Courtesy of RPBW, RPBW – Stefano Goldberg, RPBW – Paolo Pelanda, Colombo Costruzioni – Alessandro Gadutti, RPBW – Cristiano Zaccaria

© RPBW - Stefano Goldberg
© RPBW - Stefano Goldberg
© RPBW - Stefano Goldberg
© RPBW - Stefano Goldberg
© RPBW - Paolo Pelanda
© RPBW - Paolo Pelanda
© Colombo Costruzioni - Alessandro Gadutti
© Colombo Costruzioni - Alessandro Gadutti

Does the Shard Need Time?

The disappointment generated by the Shard’s opening laser light show is not so surprising for a project that has been grounded in controversy for over a decade.  Since 2000, when Piano sketched his initial vision upon meeting developer Irvine Sellar, the project has consistently met obstacles such as English Heritage and the financial crash of 2007.   But, the biggest opposition of the tower has been its height.  English Heritage claimed that the tower, formerly known as London Bridge Tower, would “tear through historic London like a shard of glass” (ironically, coining the new name of the tower), and Piano counters that, “The best architecture takes time to be understood…I would prefer people to judge it not now. Judge it in 10 years’ time.” Leading us to wonder…does the Shard simply need time to be fully appreciated?

The Shard's Opening Celebration

Update: Botín Center / Renzo Piano

© Renzo Piano
© Renzo Piano

A week ago we told you about the Botín Center, Renzo Piano’s first major project in Spain. We also featured some preliminar models of the project and more information on this building, which will have the largest private foundation in Spain invest over 150 million USD. We now have more official images, including some drawings and sketches. Check them out after the break.

Dallas's Disputed "Hot Spot"

The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas designed by Renzo Piano and the neighboring 42-story Museum Tower are embroiled in a dispute revolving around the adverse effects of glare reflecting into the Nasher’s interior gallery and garden. Currently in mediation over possible solutions, the topic certainly brings to light the implications involved in highly glazed high-rise construction and the surrounding buildings. More details after the break.

Botín Center / Renzo Piano

While all eyes may be locked on the Shard’s latest push toward the sky, Renzo Piano is preparing for his first major Spanish project to officially break ground in about one week in Santander. The Botín Foundation, the largest private foundation in Spain, will invest over 150 million USD for the construction and programming of a new Botín Center that will become an international reference in culture and education for the development of creativity through art. The building will inform a new cultural axis to connect the best art circuits in Europe and will serve as a cultural catalyst to bridge the community with art.  Emilio Botín, President of the Botín Foundation, is confident the Center will establish a new community space and link the city with the bay.  ”To accomplish it, we have called on the best architect in the world. The architect, who best knows how to link cities to the sea, to build urban spaces, and to generate magical places where art may be enjoyed,” explained Botín. More about the project after the break. 

From Mad Men to Mies: Why Modernism Holds Sway

It’s June 1966. Mies’ iconic Seagram Building dominates New York City. Bob Dylan has just released Blonde on Blonde. The Vietnam War is escalating. John Lennon has yet to meet Yoko Ono. Martin Luther King, Jr. has yet to be assassinated. And Don Draper is readjusting to married life – with his 25 year-old secretary. The excitement over Mad Men, while always eager, was positively explosive last Sunday. The season 5 premiere resulted in the show’s highest ratings to date (3.5 million viewers, up 21% from last year). While the show has always received critical acclaim, now, for whatever reason, it has reached a fever-pitch of popularity. On a purely aesthetic level, it’s easy to explain. The show draws in audiences with a meticulous, sumptuous set design that allows a nostalgic journey back in time: when design was innovative & clean, architecture was confident (cocky even),  and modernism still held its promise. But on another level, the show is successful because of its inevitability. The very knowledge of the ephemerality of that confidence, a theme particularly relevant to audiences in the wake of the Recession, is what strikes a chord, what makes the show positively hypnotizing. Watching Mad Men is like watching a Modernist car crash. A beautiful demise. More on the Modernist Landscape of Mad Men and why the show has struck a chord with audiences today after the break. 

Interview: Renzo Piano on Innovation / AR Innovators

In his interview with Renzo PianoRob Gregory of Architectural Review discusses architecture, responsibility and innovation within the field.  Piano talks about architecture is being a highly considered inquiry into the process of making because “architecture is more lasting and profound” and if it is done wrong, with the wrong intentions and assumptions, then “it is wrong for a long time”.  In regards to his work, Renzo Piano speaks about the “good and bad stories” that surround buildings.  Mentioning The Shard in London, designed in partnership with Hunter Douglas and Pompidou Centre, designed in collaboration with Richard Rogers, Piano reflects on the role of architecture in a city as a public building and cultural magnet.

More after the break.

Update: The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center / Renzo Piano

ArchDaily is once again updating you on the progress of  The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center designed by Renzo Piano.  We showed you initial plans for the building back in 2009.  Since then, we have been provided with more detail on the development of the project, which we continue to share with you.  As previously mentioned, the center will be a sustainable arts, education, and recreation complex that will contribute to the community of Athens, financed by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Plans for this building began five years ago but it was not until December 2011 that preparatory excavation work finally began.  Construction is scheduled for Spring 2012 and according to the foundation website:

The beginning of the construction phase comes at a very critical juncture in modern Greek history and brings a much-needed sense of optimism and hope, as well as a whole range of significant economic benefits to the country. Approximately €1 billion of total economic stimulus will be derived from the upfront commitment in the construction of the SNFCC, while 1,500 to 2,400 people will be employed each year to support SNFCC construction and all related industries.

More after the break.

Update: The Shard / Renzo Piano

Update: Ronchamp Chapel / Renzo Piano

© Michel Denancé
© Michel Denancé

Last week, Renzo Piano attended the opening of his newest addition to the site of Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France. Commissioned by the Association Oeuvre Notre Dame du Haut, Piano was asked to design a small visitors’ center and convent for the Poor Clare nuns who live on the grounds. When first announced in 2008, the project was in the midst of controversy as an online debate of petitions against the project – signed by Moneo, Meier and Pelli – was sent to France’s minister of culture, only to be countered with a petition in support of the project, including names such as Fuksas and Ando. Even with the conflict, Piano remained cool and collected…and a perfect fit for the job. In addition to his personal love of Le Corb’s project, Piano’s works have a certain air of sensitivty about them, a characteristic that would produce a work not to overshadow nor compete with, yet respectfully support, Corbusier’s masterpiece. “I love Le Corbusier’s building. For me, it’s a masterpiece. He made one of the most beautiful places of meditation in the world,” Piano told Arch Record. More about the convent after the break.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Expansion / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Opening in 2012, the $118 million steel, glass, and copper-clad expansion to Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum by Renzo Piano Building Workshop will more than double the size of the current facility. Included in the project are a new entrance, music hall, gallery space, and other amenities for an institution that has remained largely unaltered since opening in 1903.